On the eve of the first day of academic classes, one of our teachers, Mike Kauffmann, sent around a brief essay written by a freshman. Our Foundations class, a two-week summer orientation program for new students, begins in mid-August with an exercise in which each young person answers three questions: who are you, why are you here, and who do you want to be?
In the essay, the 9th grader said her parents had passed away, she was living with her grandmother, multiple cousins, and siblings, including one who attends our school, and she was the first female in her family to go to high school. She did not want to become a statistic, a victim of drugs, violence or teen pregnancy, she said. Instead, she wrote: “I want to be the change. I want to be confident and strong.”
That’s what the entire Cristo Rey movement with 8,000 students attending 26 schools in 17 states is all about. It’s about change – confident and strong, a belief that we can educate urban young people for college, form them to be young people of faith, purpose and service, and create a better world.
Our mission is a pretty serious one. We take young people who enter high school anywhere from 1 to four years below 9th grade level, push them as hard as we can, and prepare them for college. The road is never easy. Many of our students (and sometimes our staff) want to give up. But, our name is Cristo Rey – Christ the King – the one who preached to the poorest in His time that the world could be better and more just. Our faith tells us that we can always overcome.
We begin year 10 of the Cristo Rey mission in Boston with 368 students, 125 corporate partners, and hundreds of believers who follow our work and support our young people. Cristo Rey keeps going in Boston and beyond because our students, like the young woman in Mike’s Foundations class, want to be the change, confident and strong. We cannot let her or her classmates down.
Thank you for being part of Cristo Rey Boston, and stay tuned for an incredibly exciting year.